A New York transplant to Ten Sleep, Wyo. (pop. 300), Stockton recounts her adventures with her mercurial pet coyote, Charlie, in The Daily Coyote.
Why did you want to share your and Charlie's story?
I didn't intend to write a book; I let the experience unfold and it went in a direction I wasn't really expecting, into a holistic view of the world and our place in it. My hope is for people to have a respect for what is outside of them and that the book can provide a different perspective. For some it might be that predator control is not demonic—there is a place for it if it is done in a certain way; for others it may be that wildlife needs to be taken into consideration in our choices and lifestyles; and still for others it might be a chance to see what it's like to live in the environment the way I have been doing.
You've received considerable criticism on your blog about your decision to raise Charlie—some people even claimed that what you were doing was illegal. Do you anticipate facing a second round with the publishing of this book?
I'm sure there will be some controversy, but I'm much better prepared for it now. I've realized that it's just part of the learning process for everyone and I don't have to take everything so personally. I feel really good that I have the book behind me now; I can tell people, “Here, this is every step of the way. Read it before you make judgments about me or what it's like to live with a wild animal, because there are many different sides to it.” I'm not trying to promote [coyotes] as the new designer pet. I have been e-mailed by people who want a coyote, and my question is always—why would you want to do that to yourself? It's so much work!
Charlie had some scary adolescent aggression issues. Are you still alpha dog in the house?
Oh, yes. He's got little flickers of attitude, but it's common with wild animals that have grown up in the same situation as Charlie; it comes on right before winter—the time when to survive it's every animal for himself. It's not 100% easy right now, but I'm not terribly worried. Going on walks with him is such a healthful tool for me—it's when we connect and my way of showing him that I'm the one making the decisions. He's just such an incredible catalyst for my evolution as a human being.
Finally, what is Charlie doing right now?
At this very second? He's outside, he and [my new puppy] Chloe are roughhousing and running around. And it's getting ready to rain.